Writer’s block. Everyone gets it and all writers have to deal with it at some point. I don’t mean just authors or amateur writers. You can get writer’s block typing an email to a friend or working on a report. I get it a lot more when I’m working on something I don’t want to write. Sometime I get ideas on the page and then I hate it. Scribble everything out and start again. It could also be work that I’ve finished, but hate everything about it – the style, tone and message.
Writer’s block is often touted as the writer’s arch nemesis. Hollywood often stereotype the poor struggling artist who can’t create because of writer’s block. Really? I don’t buy into this. I’ve had one episode that I could describe as writer’s block. It was about a year or so ago and I was in the middle of my first novel. The first half of the story spewed out onto the page (in a good way), and I congratulated myself on being the most epic-ally gifted writer that ever lived. Then it hit me. Bugger! I had cold sweats. I had sleepless nights. I ran out into the backyard naked, under the full moon looking for a cure. I didn’t find it, but my poor
husband did question my sanity. I told him I had writer’s block and he rolled his eyes and said “Just write.” Of course I scoffed at that. What would he know? He wasn’t a writer. Like I was some magical beast that was blessed with turning a phrase into a book. But like most things he was right. So, I got dressed. Sat down and wrote. I wrote a shopping list. I wrote an email to a girlfriend. I even wrote an executive summary for a report. Nothing for my book, but I was writing.
The next day I was walking to Pitt Street Mall during lunch and I saw a woman walking with a man. She was complaining about the amount of money he had spent on a dress for her. She was adamant that she was going to pay him back. This ended up as a tiny part in the book but from this little vignette of this woman’s life I got a whole chunk of story that flowed and that bit led onto another bit and so on.
I haven’t really been writing seriously for that long. I don’t count the years I spent just writing because I loved it. I’m talking about finished books, so maybe my best days of writer’s block are to come. I do have days that I call having ‘a case of the tweezers.’ Where I have to tweeze out tiny threads of a chapter to get something down on paper, which is better than keeping the notebook closed and not writing anything. Two paragraphs is always better than nothing. The next writing session is not dependent on what came before. A crap Monday doesn’t equal a crap Tuesday. Nor does it mean that you are a hopeless writer, it means you’re human and flawed. And that’s alright!
Writing for me is about writing life. Sitting in my spare room for months on end typing away and then ripping my hair out when I try and get through a blocked moment isn’t what writing is about for me– although if this works for you then go for it! Just don’t stop writing!
Write anything. Write everything. It could be something as small as a snippet of conversation that prompts you to find the rest of the story.
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